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Schumer: more federal aid for sewer repairs should be issued as grants, not loans

Ryan Delaney

Sen. Charles Schumer says increasing the amount of federal funding available as grants for sewer repairs and upgrades will make the work more affordable for local governments.

Last year New York was only allowed to give out $10 million in federal money as grants to towns villages for sewer projects. The rest had to be given as loans.

"Cash-strapped local government have difficulty affording the big wastewater infrastructure projects, so they have no choice, they put them off for another day," Schumer said Wednesday. 

Schumer, D-N.Y., wants to quadruple the amount that can be given as grants, saying that will allow municipalities to start work right away.

"Talk to your local town supervisor, they’ll tell you these grants have a catalyst affect, is what they say," Schumer said.

He says that’s because major economic development projects can happen when the underground infrastructure is ready to support the construction.

"I’ve had town after town, county after county, tell me that they had somebody interested in locating a company or jobs there, but since they didn’t have shovel-ready sewer and water, they didn’t come," said Schumer.

Schumer is reaching out to the state Environmental Facilities Corporation to increase its use of grants. He says there are nearly 300 sewer projects in the pipeline across the state.